Here's How Restaurants Have Changed in 2021

Now that restaurants are following suit with the country and re-opening their doors for dine-in operations, we'd like to take a moment and discuss how restaurants have changed in 2021, and what we predict will be here for the long haul, versus all the temporary fixtures that we imagine will be leaving shortly (plexiglass dividers, anyone?)

Convenience is Key

Back in 2018, QSR Magazine predicted that grab-and-go would be the next big trend, and that was before anyone even imagined that the world would go through a pandemic. Convenience, coupled with a respectful amount of caution for transmission increased the desire and need for grab-and-go in a massive way during 2020 and 2021. Restaurants faced closures, and people flocked to essential grocery stores, grabbing what they could find in a rush. Having prepared food that they didn't have to go home and cook over a stove was a convenience, and stores and restaurants that added merchandisers to their offerings saw increased profit and happier guests. The next time you question the validity of grab-and-go, think back to how many times you gave in to buying a chocolate milk for your kid while standing in the takeout line at a coffee shop or bought a cold beverage at a retail location from the coolers.

Delivery and Takeout/Drive-Thru Options

Randal has first-hand experience working with nationwide chains to expand their takeout operations. Request our new Restaurant Whitepaper to find out who!

Pizza delivery became a pillar for how restaurants handled the influx of phone calls and online ordering during lockdowns waves. In fact, your local pizza place may have profited during the pandemic. As restaurants stopped doing dine-in, takeout became vital and proved to be successful for many popular chains.

Texas Roadhouse pivoted and offered elaborate drive-thru options for takeout, and restaurant operators across the country began to beef up their online ordering capabilities or turned to popular new delivery apps like DoorDash or UberEats. Tables were pushed apart, and takeout areas were designated to support the foot traffic coming and going. 

Take it Outdoors

Outdoor dining has become a staple over the past year and a half. During the winter, we saw restaurant operators get even more creative. In Chicago, there was a big increase in igloos, hexadomes, outdoor firepits, and tented rooftop retreats; that idea spread to other midwest and northern climates to bring some comfort to dining in freezing temps, while also adhering to local guidelines. Cafes offered picnic tables on the sidewalk, and some cities even opened up entire streets for social street- drinking within certain districts.

There is perceived safety in outdoor dining, and this trend is sure to stick around, especially as we head into the summer months and goose-down coats aren't a necessary accessory anymore to enjoy a drink on a patio with a small group of friends.

Whatever new trend you see popping up within the restaurant industry near you, you can rest easy knowing that Randal Retail Group is well-versed and knowledgeable when it comes to change. We went through some changes over the past 40 years, expanded our offerings, and vowed to outfit restaurants better, cheaper, and faster than anyone else.

Would you like to see 3 specific chains that Randal worked within 2020 and 2021, and learn how we helped them expand during hard times? Sign up to request our whitepaper by clicking the image below.

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